Luther and Erasmus on Scripture, Canon, and Authority

Luther and ErasmusThe history of the Christian tradition can be understood as series of great theological debates determining the trajectory of the doctrines and practices of the Great Church. Since the divide between Jewish and Gentile Christians recorded in the canonical Acts of the Apostles and alluded to by other early Jesus Movement writings, the history of Christianity has been wrought with oft opposed camps of theological forces. Athanasius and Arius, Cyril and Nestorius, Augustine and Pelagius, Michael Cerularius and Pope Leo IX, William of Ockham and Thomas Aquinas; these are but a few of the great theological debates that have shaped Western Christianity.

Perhaps no period of Church history included as many formative theological divergences as the Age of Theological Reform in sixteenth century Europe. Within the context of the Protestant Reformation numerous debates (and eventually, divisions) arose, many of which continue to influence the theology and practice of Western Christians today. Among the most famous of these debates was the literary exchange that occurred between Martin Luther and Erasmus of Rotterdam their respective works, De Servo Arbitrio and De Libero Arbitrio Diatribe Seu Collatio.[1] In these writings Luther and Erasmus treated the relationship between human freedom and divine authority, encountering issues of hermeneutics and interpretation, original sin, and the constitution of acceptable sources of authority for Christian theology along the way. Continue reading